A Smile So Sharp It Will Split Atoms

German radioactive toothpaste quack medicine

From 1940 to 1945, if you wanted to acquire radioactive material in Germany, you didn’t have to engage in cloak-and-dagger shenanigans; you simply had to go to the nearest pharmacy and purchase a tube of Doramad toothpaste. 

Doramad was produced with small quantities of radioactive thorium. This wasn’t a manufacturing accident; it was an intentional marketing strategy. 

Translation: “Its radioactive radiation increases the defenses of teeth and gums. The cells are loaded with new life energy, the bacteria are hindered in their destroying effect. This explains the excellent prophylaxis and healing process with gingival diseases. It gently polishes the dental enamel so it turns white and shiny. Prevents dental calculus. Wonderful lather and a new, pleasant, mild and refreshing taste. Can be applied sparingly.”

Aside from being the poster child of quack medicine, Doramad played an interesting role in the race to develop the atomic bomb. U.S. intelligence agents were alarmed to learn that unusually-large amounts of thorium were being bought up by Germany. This suggested that German research toward the atomic bomb had progressed further than previously had been thought. 

It was only as the war drew to a close that investigators learned the real reason for the thorium shipments. Savvy German entrepreneurs were decades ahead of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” proposal. They were stocking up on radioactive material so they could make money selling a ground-breaking product. Their marketing slogan was, “Use toothpaste with thorium! Have sparkling, brilliant teeth—radioactive brilliance!”

Read more about toothpaste and the race for the Bomb here

A Idiot In Scotland Might Find Himself Kilt


Scottish insults words for idiot

You can tell a lot about what concerns people by looking at their language. Eskimos have many words for snow. The ancient Greeks had six words for love. It doesn’t take a lot to conclude that these were important things for these cultures.

Based on this, one can reasonably conclude that Scots are quite concerned about being inconvenienced by people of low intelligence. Scotland has at least twenty words and phrases for the word idiot.

Peter Capaldi Doctor Who "I understand. You're an idiot."
Peter Capaldi shows his true Scottish colors as the Doctor in BBC’s Doctor Who episode “Under the Lake” when he says, “I understand. You’re an idiot.”

These words include: bampot, diddy,  div, dunderheed, dolton, eejit, goon, heid-the-baw, huddy, numpty, tube, choob, wallaper, warmer, galoot, dobber, gommy, roaster, daftie, and neap.

Asleep at the Senate

Charles Dawes Vice President tie-breaking vote asleep
30th US Vice President Charles Dawes (left) and 48th US Vice President Mike Pence (right)

On February 7, 2017, Vice President Mike Pence became the first Vice President to cast the tie-breaking vote in the US Senate for the confirmation of a cabinet member. Under the terms of the Constitution, the Vice President presides over the Senate, but does not have a vote except for the purpose of breaking a tie. With the Senate evenly divided on the nomination of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, Vice President Pence cast his vote in favor of confirming the President’s nomination, thus earning himself one more place in the history books.

One of his predecessors had the opportunity to have that place in history.  Continue reading

Much Ado About Nothing Protesting

funny protest signs

The right to peacefully protest is a fundamental right of free society. Protests have led to advancement in civil rights, advancement of political causes and even the downfall of oppressive governments.

And sometimes one wonders what the big deal is.

Continue reading

Get Out of Jail Free for $2

man spends almost five months in prison $2 bail

Aitabdel Salem spent five months in jail, waiting for someone to come up with the money to post bond. Little did he know that he could have walked for less than the cost of a large cup of coffee.

Salem was jailed in April 2014 on charges of attacking a police officer who arrested him for shoplifting. His bond was originally set at $25,000 on the assault charge and $1 for each of two accompanying minor charges. Salem was unable to come up with the $25,002, so he sat in his New York City jail cell, awaiting trial.

When prosecutors were unable to get an indictment for the assault charge, it went away, together with the $25,000 bail requirement. That left just the remaining two charges — and $2 bail — keeping Mr. Salem in custody.

So there he sat — for nearly five months. Salem claims his attorney failed to tell him about the change in his bail requirements. When he finally posted bail — in April 2015 — he was ordered to return to court the next month for a hearing. He failed to show up as scheduled and was arrested and put in custody — this time on $30,000 bail.


Radioactive Boy Scout

Radioactive Boy Scout David Hahn
David Hahn, the Boy Scout who attempted to build a breeder reactor in his mother’s potting shed.

When the Boy Scouts of America approved the Atomic Energy Merit Badge in 1963, they probably did not envision the lengths future members would go in furtherance of their knowledge of atomic energy. They certianly did not anticipate David Hahn, who, in 1994, would attempt to earn his merit badge by building a breeder reactor in his mother’s potting shed. Continue reading

Throw it All Away — But Be Sure to Keep It All

Ronald Reagan Army Make Copies Before Destroying Documents

President Ronald Reagan devoted his presidency to combating an ever-growing and intrusive federal government. He recounted his days in the Army Air Force during World War II when he first faced the bureaucratic mindset:

“I remember one of my first experiences with government was as an adjutant for an Army Air Corps base in World War II. There was a warehouse filled with files, and the files containing documents and records and so forth — but which upon going at them you recognized that they were of no historical value. And they were totally useless, their time had passed them by. So, we started a message in the usual military style of sending a message, endorsing it up to the next in command, asking permission to destroy those papers so we could make use of the files for current documents. And then the next echelon — they endorsed it up and up and up, and finally to the top command. And then back down through the channel it came, and the answer was yes. We could destroy those papers, providing we made copies of each and every one.”

Source: Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Ronald Reagan, 1987 (October 9).